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Starrcade Countdown: 1992

The Netcop Retro Rant for Starrcade 92, which is the 10th annual Starrcade 92, according to the voiceover guy at the beginning. Yup, I remember the first Starrcade 92, back in 1983...

• Live from Atlanta, GA

• Your hosts are Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura

• The whole point of the show is blown right off the bat, as it is announced that US champion Rick Rude is injured, thus ruining the Ron Simmons-Rick Rude match for the WCW World title. Steve Williams is put in his place. I can’t tell you how much I wanted to hear that announcement when watching the show for the first time. That would be sarcasm, of course.

• Bill Watts and Hank Aaron present Sting with last year’s Battlebowl ring. I’m shocked that Watts was able to be in the same ring with Aaron, considering all the allegations of racism against Watts. Sting is wearing blue and white face paint...could this be a secret alliance with the Smurfs? TUNE INTO NITRO TO FIND OUT!  (2011 Scott sez:  I’d like to think that joke’s pretty timeless.)

• Larry Z and Missy Hyatt do the honors of drawing the names for Battlebowl.

The Lethal Lottery:

Opening match: Van Hammer & Dan Spivey v. Cactus Jack & Johnny B. Badd.

Johnny wears a cowboy hat to the ring, thus boosting him to an 8 on the Fag-O-Meter. He’d hit 9 if he was wearing the feather boa. Hammer dominates Cactus to start. Badd tags in and he gets beat up. Badd retaliates with a VICIOUS rana, driving Hammer’s head into the mat. Badd and Cactus are de facto faces here, and Hammer is the reluctant heel. The drawing is rigged for this match at least (it was done on the previous Clash) so they’ve had some time to plan the match. Badd gets beat on for a bit and Jack gets the hot tag and destroys Spivey. He goes for the tag again, but Badd was knocked out to the floor. Further miscommunication results and Badd ends up KO’ing Jack, allowing Hammer to roll him up for the pin. Not bad. **

Dustin Rhodes & Vader v. Barbarian & Kensuke Sasaki.

Well, one team is good. Vader and Barbie have a slobberknocker to start. That goes nowhere so we try Dustin v. Sasaski. Sasaski wrestles like a Road Warrior, no-selling Dustin’s stuff, so Vader comes in and wipes the mat with him. That’ll teach him. Awfully stiff stuff from Vader. Dustin cleans house on Barbarian, and a miscommunication spot between Sasaki and Barbarian leads to Rhodes getting the pin. Vader made it watchable. *1/2 Vader destroys Rhodes for fun.

• Why is Jesse Ventura wearing a Malcolm X hat?

Barry Windham & The Great Muta v. 2 Cold Scorpio & Brian Pillman.

This should be interesting. Pillman & Windham are going for the tag titles later in the show. Muta is the most over guy in the match. Pillman and Muta do a “dream match that never happened” sequence. What a shame. Windham and Pillman smack each other around a bunch, then call it off. Muta gets a SWANK spinning kick to the jaw of Pillman, but gets caught in the wrong corner. Sadly, these matches are too short to tell any kind of story, but necessity. Now Scorp gets caught in the wrong corner and double-teamed. Ever notice how much the People’s Elbow resembles Muta’s? Scorpio does some high impact stuff to Muta and a pier-six erupts. Windham hits an absolutely neck-breaking Implant (jumping DDT) and Muta finishes it with a moonsault to Scorpio for the pin. Damn, I wish they had 20 minutes to develop it. **1/2

Steve Williams & Sting v. Erik Watts & Jushin Liger.

Williams no-sells a bunch of Liger’s stuff (what a surprise) so Liger lets Watts be the whipping boy. Liger tags back in and gets torn apart by Williams. Is this some kind of All Japan-New Japan thing? Sting and Liger works out a bit better for Jushin. Williams just kills Liger some more. Why can’t it be Watts taking the shitkicking? (2011 Scott sez:  Because then the match would suck, duh.)  Liger goes for a sleeper on Doc—not smart, Jushin. Doc drops him on his head. JR is in his glory calling this. Finally after a horrible slaughter, Watts gets the hot tag and hits the two singularly worst dropkicks I’ve seen in my life. Williams should be ashamed for selling them. (2011 Scott sez:  I actually based the Erik Watts Dropkick Scale on this match.  This is 1.0 Watts.)  The crowd does NOT appreciate the efforts of Watts. Williams hits a stungun on Watts shortly after and easily pins him, for a big pop. This was basically a squash. **

• So the Battlebowl field is Van Hammer, Dan Spivey, Barry Windham, Great Muta, Vader, Dustin Rhodes, Sting and Steve Williams.

NWA “World” title match: Masahiro Chono v. The Great Muta.

Oh no, it’s the battle of nWo Japan. Back in early 1993, Herb Kunze noted that both guys were specifically told by Bill Watts before the match to NOT put on a good show, so as not to steal the show from the WCW guys. So if you ever see this match, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Chono is wearing the belt currently worn by DDP here. (2011 Scott sez:  Say what?)  Some wristlock trading to start, and Muta stalls. They trade abdominal stretches. Then Chono applies an armbar. Then Muta applies a head scissor. Man, this is almost exciting to type as it is to watch. Now Muta stalls some more. Man, they’re just lucky it’s not Philly. Chono goes into a hammerlock. I’m proud of the fans for not breaking into a huge “boring” chant, because it would certainly be their right. Finally a highspot, as Chono goes to the top and Muta reverses to a superplex. Muta with the Indian deathlock. You’ve all heard my stance on that particular move and why no one born after 1960 should be using it anymore, I assume. Now Chono stalls. Hey, another highspot, as Muta hits the handspring elbow and goes for the moonsault, but misses. Muta gets two off a cradle. Both guys try a dropkick and both miss. Chono hits a backdrop suplex, and Muta reverses a second try for two. Muta misses a dropkick and Chono hooks the STF and Muta submits. Okay, first of all the finish came out of nowhere, with no buildup. The match was terribly boring. The crowd was dead. There was all of one move with any kind of high-risk. All in all, a horrible match. -**

• Ross runs down a tournament for the US title as a result of Rude’s injury. It’s a shame, too, because Rude was pretty much pencilled in to take Ron Simmons’ World title on this show. He never properly recovered from that neck injury, and in fact was permanently crippled by Sting in 1994 and sent into retirement. He lost all his heat during the layoff, too.

WCW World title match: Ron Simmons v. Steve Williams.

Yes, it’s Farrooq v. JR’s Boy. No wonder this show tanked. Simmons of course is using that classic theme “Don’t Step to Ron”. Sadly, my roommate has that CD. Jesse rants about dirty politics with regards to Rick Rude. Williams actually offers Simmons a handshake—and doesn’t attack him. Wow. They trade headlocks and then do a dueling three-point stance routine to get the crowd going. Simmons does a bunch of armbarring. Williams works on the knee. There you go, 10 minutes summed up in 2 sentences. Simmons makes the comeback with a bunch of clips. They fight outside the ring for a double countout. A long, boring match that settled nothing. DUD  (2011 Scott sez:  Whose dumb idea was it to substitute Dr. Death into the World title match?  Just stick Vader in there since they ended up changing the title about a week after this anyway.) 

WCW/NWA tag team title match: Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas v. Brian Pillman & Barry Windham.

Pillman & Windham were the pre-cursors to the Hollywood Blonds. Windham is using the epic theme “Smokin’” and Steamboat/Douglas get “Family Man”. Wow, what a great album that was. Not. Jesse notes that Shane’s idol is Rush Limbaugh. Somehow I’m not surprised at that revelation. Pillman and Douglas start out. It’s pretty tough to deal with Douglas the Bouncing Babyface these days. The champs do some double-teaming, leaving us with Windham against Steamboat. Since Steamboat is a professional (unlike his partner) he breaks the theme of the evening by actually putting forth an effort. Everyone else has it in cruise control. Pillman takes his trademark chin-to-the-railing bump, of course. Douglas does take a nice bump, getting dropkicked off the top rope to the floor. Douglas plays Ricky Morton. Douglas takes a nasty bump, hitting his leg on the railing. Steamboat nails Windham with a chair to save Douglas. Ricky, I’m disappointed in you. Faces don’t do that. Finally, after an eternity, Steamboat gets the hot tag and cleans house. Doesn’t last long, as Windham powerslams and suplexes him. Another heat segment follows, this one on Steamboat. Douglas gets another hot tag, and a pier-six erupts. Pillman walks into a fluke belly-to-belly and the champs retain. Just awful by Steamboat’s standards, although still a really good match by any other. ***1/4 Windham would be replaced by Steve Austin for the rematch, and the rest is history.  (2011 Scott sez:  I majorly short-shrifted this match, as we’ll see once I repost the Essential Starrcade rants.  This was a HELL of a tag match, maybe one of the best in the history of Starrcade.) 

The King of Cable tournament final: Sting v. Vader.

JR and Jesse talk this up as the big blowoff for the Sting-Vader feud. Hah! It’s won’t end—it NEVER ENDS! They’d still be fighting today if Vader was in WCW. (2011 Scott sez:  Or TNA.)  Hmm, the doo rag makes Vader look cool, but the jockstrap on his face completely negates it. This would be match #19948 in their series of 78190. Sting controls early and slaps on the deathlock, but Vader breaks out and they fight outside the ring. Sting misses the Stinger splash outside and runs into the railing. Vader destroys Sting like his bitch. Vader hits him so hard you’d think that Sting stole his donut collection or something. They must not have had much time to prepare this one—Vader is calling spots pretty frequently. Sting blocks a superplex but Vader continues the assault. Sting finally sucks up his breath and lets Vader punch himself out, then makes the comeback. Sting goes after Race and pays the price for it—getting chokeslammed by Vader. Vader goes to the second rope and splats Sting. Woof. He didn’t get all of it, so he goes up to the top rope, and gets powerslammed by Sting for the pin. Sting wins the King of Cable tournament. Hey, a **** Sting-Vader match, what a shock. ****1/4

• Battlebowl: We’ve got Van Hammer, Dan Spivey, Dustin Rhodes, Vader, Sting, Steve Williams, Barry Windham and Great Muta. They talk to some football player about the importance of rings in sporting events. My roommate’s theory: Bill Watts likes football players. That’s right—never mind those blacks or Japanese, let’s talk to some completely unrelated retired football players. Great philosophy Bill—enjoy the unemployment line. Anyway, racist unpleasantness aside, Sting and Vader try to kill each other, as per usual. Windham and Rhodes try to kill each other, of course. The rest kind of mingle in the corner. Van Hammer and Spivey are the first gone. Vader dives onto Sting and they’re both gone. Final four: Rhodes, Windham, Williams and Muta. Windham bleeds hardway from the nose. Not much happens until Williams tries to knock Rhodes and Windham out, but only gets Rhodes...and himself in the process. That leaves Windham and Muta. Windham wipes the mat with Muta. He tosses Muta, who does the Ricky Steamboat skin-the-cat back in and dropkicks Barry out for the win and the ring. Ummmm, that was pretty pointless. I don’t rate battle royales.

The Bottom Line:

This show marked the end of the Great Bill Watts Fiasco, as his reign lasted from early 1992 until here. Almost immediately after, Watts was tossed out on his ass and replaced with company suckup Eric Bischoff, who put the World title back on Vader and took the company in a whole new direction. This was a sham of a Starrcade, certainly not worthy of the 10th anniversary name.  (2011 Scott sez:  It’s true, Bill Watts was just not the right guy to be running a national company at that point.  He really didn’t “get” the PPV model or modern TV product, and shows like this proved it.) 

Strong recommendation to avoid.  (2011 Scott sez:  Well, except for the two ****+ matches that ended the show.  We’ll actually say mildly recommended for those.)